Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois, but grew up in Roslyn, New York. His father was a journalist and encouraged him to write and to type. Michael gave up studying English at Harvard University, having become disillusioned with the teaching standards–the final straw came when he submitted an essay by George Orwell that was given a “B.”
After giving up English and spending a year in Europe, Michael returned to Boston, Massachusetts, and attended Harvard Medical School to train as a doctor.
During his medical-student days, he wrote novels secretly. One of them, “A Case of Need,” written under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson, contained references to people at Harvard Medical School, but he couldn’t hide his identity when the novel won an award that had to be collected in person. After giving up medicine, Michael moved to Hollywood, California, in the early 1970s and began directing movies based on his books,
Crichton, who died in Los Angeles on November 4, 2008, was best known as the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of ER. His most recent novel, Next, about genetics and law, was published in December 2006.
He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researching public policy with Jacob Bronowski. He taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT.
Crichton’s 2004 bestseller, State of Fear, utilized a fictional storyline and defined facts that de-bunked the current theories espousing manmade global warming. The book was widely popular but not well received by the industries celebrities.
Crichton’s interest in computer modeling went back forty years. His multiple-discriminant analysis of Egyptian crania, carried out on an IBM 7090 computer at Harvard, was published in the Papers of the Peabody Museum in 1966. His technical publications included a study of host factors in pituitary chromophobe adenoma, in metabolism, and an essay on medical obfuscation in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Crichton’s first bestseller, The Andromeda Strain, was published while he was still a medical student and may now be coming to fruition through the MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus Aureus) bacteria now plaguing the nation. He later worked full time on film and writing. One of the most popular writers in the world, his books have been translated into thirty-six languages, and thirteen have been made into films.
He had a lifelong interest in computers. His feature film Westworld was the first to employ computer-generated special effects back in 1973. Crichton’s pioneering use of computer programs for film production earned him a Technical Achievement Academy Award in 1995.
Crichton won an Emmy, a Peabody, and a Writer’s Guild of America Award for ER.
In 2002, a newly discovered ankylosaur was named for him: Crichtonsaurus bohlini. He had a daughter, Taylor, and lived in Los Angeles. Crichton remarried in 2005.
Editors Note: I first read The Andromeda Strain while in college at IUPU in the late 70s. Then while on my way to the US Virgin Islands in the early 90s I had the pleasure of reading Jurassic Park. Although I never had the chance to meet Michael Crichton in person I felt I knew him through his writings. He was ahead of his time and a person who could not be corrupted by current trends or massive propaganda campaigns. He will be sorely missed in the world of literature.
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